Relentless Contemplates Freemium After Blue Toad

Relentless Contemplates Freemium After Blue Toad

Andrew Eades, co-founder of Relentless Software, says the developer will now give serious thought to the free-to-play model after the success of its episodic title Blue Toad Murder Files.

In a tweet this afternoon Eades revealed that after Relentless made the third episode of its detective mystery available for free on PSN, it was downloaded more than 70,000 times in a two-week period, prompting him to ask: “Can freemium work on PSN?”

With the entire series notching up 250,000 paid PSN downloads as of last week, that’s a significant figure, and Eades says Relentless has changed its stance on the notion of free-to-play games.

“We never really considered "free" as an option with Blue Toad in 2008 when we decided to make it; but I would today,” he tells us. “Blue Toad Murder Files has always been a bit of an experiment for us. Our first objective was to make a game you could tell was a Relentless production. Our second was to find a way to begin our journey into self-publishing.”

Blue Toad was a carefully dipped toe in unfamiliar waters for a developer who, until that point, had been a disc-only, PlayStation-only developer, bound by an exclusivity deal that expired late last year. Eades has spoken in the past of how digital distribution allows self-publishers to stimulate sales for a far longer period than in traditional retail channels by experimenting with bundles and pricing, and this latest development rather proves his point.

With the free third episode – or Episode Free, as he calls it – only working on machines that already had the first two episodes installed, making one available for free naturally drove sales of the others.

“There's always a spike in sales whenever you do a promotion so we did see one when we did Episode Free,” he says. “We certainly saw the expected spikes in sales of the Episodes 1&2 bundle and in Episode 2. But it also enabled us to address the community's apprehension about price. They felt that the pricing was too high so we lowered it. We replaced the Episodes 1&2 bundle with Episodes 1-3 and kept the price. At the same time we reduced the price of a single episode.”

Relentless’ next project, the iPhone social quiz game Quiz Climber which it has developed for Angry Birds and Cut The Rope publisher Chillingo, will also be a free download, and will be released later this month.